US, China to hold talks to reduce trade, military tensions
China and the US are set to hold high-level talks in Beijing, China to reduce the spiraling trade and military tensions between the world's two largest economies. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will hold talks with top Chinese officials today in a bid to halt the ongoing trade war in which both countries slapped additional tariffs on billions of dollars of their exports.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis too was due to visit but it was canceled which China said was at the behest of Washington. The news of cancelation of his visit came after the US alleged that Chinese naval ship conducted unsafe maneuvers near its destroyer Decatur when it passed through the islands off the disputed South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have counterclaims. Pompeo's visit was expected to provide an opportunity to both sides to lower the tensions between them. Besides slapping additional tariffs on Chinese exports, the US has also imposed sanctions on a Chinese military unit for securing Russian weapon systems like S-400 missiles and Su-35 fighters.
Ahead of the visit, both the countries had heated exchanges. US Vice President Mike Pence on October 4 accused China of interfering in US internal affairs and elections policies. Pence said China wants a "different American President" and is using more "proactive and coercive" methods to interfere in the US's domestic policies and politics. China has refuted Pence's allegation terming them as "malicious slander".
Reacting to Pence's allegations, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on October 5 said, "The relevant speech made unwarranted accusations against China's domestic and foreign policies and slandered China by claiming that China meddles in US internal affairs and elections."
Significantly ahead of Pompeo's visit, Chinese Ambassador to Washington Cui Tiankai said China wants to end the trade war with the US, but that the US position keeps changing, adding, "So we don't know exactly what the US would want as priorities." "We're ready to make some compromise, but it needs the goodwill from both sides," Cui said in an interview last week.
Cui further said, "We offered to reduce the trade deficit of the US, for instance. And we also presented a very good proposal to the US side about the further reform and opening up in China." He added that more than once the two countries had some tentative agreement but overnight the agreement was rejected and the demand from the US changed.